`Study Links Mediterranean Diet to Better Memory in Diabetics - Olive Oil Times

Study Links Mediterranean Diet to Better Memory in Diabetics

Jun. 16, 2019
Mary West

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Researchers in Boston found dia­bet­ics might have health­ier brain func­tion if they adhere to a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet). The eat­ing plan was linked to bet­ter mem­ory, word recog­ni­tion and other cog­ni­tive skills.

Both adher­ing to a Mediterranean diet and effec­tively man­ag­ing Type 2 dia­betes may sup­port opti­mal cog­ni­tive func­tion.- Harvard researchers

Consuming foods and nutri­ents char­ac­ter­is­tic of the Mediterranean dietary pat­tern has been con­sis­tently asso­ci­ated with bet­ter cog­ni­tive func­tion among adults and older adults,” Josiemer Mattei, assis­tant pro­fes­sor of nutri­tion at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and col­leagues wrote.

As con­sum­ing a Mediterranean diet has been asso­ci­ated with pre­ven­tion and con­trol of Type 2 dia­betes, this dietary pat­tern may have dual ben­e­fits for both Type 2 dia­betes and cog­ni­tion,” the study’s authors added.

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In the study, Mattei and the research team fol­lowed 465 adults with Type 2 dia­betes and 711 adults with­out the dis­ease. The par­tic­i­pants were enrolled in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study from 2004 to 2007.

Using food ques­tion­naires at base­line and at the two-year point, the researchers eval­u­ated adher­ence to the fol­low­ing eat­ing plans: MedDiet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, Healthy Eating Index and Alternative Healthy Eating Index. In addi­tion, they mon­i­tored blood glu­cose and assessed cog­ni­tive abil­ity using seven neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests.


The results showed a link between stricter adher­ence to the MedDiet and health­ier cog­ni­tion for Type 2 dia­bet­ics at two years in com­par­i­son to base­line. However, this ben­e­fit was only noted in par­tic­i­pants with sta­ble glu­cose lev­els. When the indi­vid­u­als had poor or declin­ing blood glu­cose con­trol, the link dis­ap­peared.

Mattei told Olive Oil Times why the MedDiet appeared to trump other healthy diets in enhanc­ing cog­ni­tion in dia­bet­ics.

It’s impor­tant to note that the ben­e­fits of the MedDiet over other healthy diets were noted only among patients with Type 2 dia­betes,” he said. Among those with­out Type 2 dia­betes, all healthy diets equally helped improve mem­ory func­tion.”

Two fac­tors may under­lie the cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits of the MedDiet in patients with Type 2 dia­betes,” he added. First, a healthy MedDiet includes antiox­i­dant-rich fruit and veg­eta­bles, as well as fish and nuts; foods that are plen­ti­ful in healthy fats. These nutri­ents help sus­tain cog­ni­tive func­tion by reduc­ing inflam­ma­tion and oxi­da­tion in the brain.”

Secondly, the MedDiet includes whole grains and legumes that assist in keep­ing blood sugar at healthy lev­els,” Mattei con­tin­ued. Keeping Type 2 dia­betes con­trolled helps lower meta­bolic oxi­da­tion prod­ucts and sus­tains effi­cient insulin action, which plays a role in cog­ni­tive processes. Therefore, the diet may have dual ben­e­fits on cog­ni­tion and blood sugar con­trol.”

Both adher­ing to a Mediterranean diet and effec­tively man­ag­ing Type 2 dia­betes may sup­port opti­mal cog­ni­tive func­tion,” the researchers wrote in their con­clu­sion. Healthy diets, in gen­eral, can help improve mem­ory func­tion among adults with­out Type 2 dia­betes.”

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